Sitting outside of the NFC playoff picture with seven games remaining, the Detroit Lions will go for their third consecutive victory when they visit the Chicago Bears in a matchup of longtime NFC Central rivals. The Lions have answered a three-game skid with back-to-back wins to stay within two games of the division-leading Minnesota Vikings.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford had two of his worst games of the season as the teams split a pair of matchups in 2016, one reason why coach Jim Caldwell is blocking out talking of the postseason. “I’ve told you guys that a thousand times, and it’s a fact,” Caldwell told reporters this week. “It’s one game. If that game just so happens to be the trigger game somewhere down the line, then it’s one game. So that’s all we focus in on.” Rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall selection in this year’s draft, will make his sixth straight start for Chicago, which has been limited to 17 points or fewer in seven of nine games. “I like what I’m seeing,” Trubisky said. “We just need to continue to develop that rhythm and timing and keep building our chemistry.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Lions -3. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE LIONS (5-4): Stafford had posted his highest passer ratings of the season over the last two weeks, but he registered his lowest of 2016 (56.8) in a 17-14 loss at Chicago. Although the Lions avenged that defeat with a three-point win over the Bears in December, Stafford struggled again and had one scoring pass versus four interceptions in the two meetings versus Chicago. Golden Tate, who was benched in the loss at Chicago last season, is Stafford’s top target with 56 receptions, including 27 catches for 392 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the past four games. Detroit’s ground game continues to sputter, ranking 29th with an average of 82.6 yards.
ABOUT THE BEARS (3-6): Trubisky is coming off the best game of his brief tenure, completing 60 percent of his passes for the first time and throwing for a career-best 297 yards with one touchdown in a 23-16 home loss to the Green Bay Packers. The injury-ravaged wide receiver corps received a boost from recently acquired Dontrelle Inman, who had six receptions for 88 yards in his Chicago debut. Second-year running back Jordan Howard, who has rushed for 716 yards and four scores, ran for 197 yards on 36 carries in the two meetings versus Detroit last season. Chicago is tied for seventh in the league with 26 sacks and ranks ninth with 315.3 yards allowed per game.
1. Stafford has 22 TDs and 17 interceptions in 14 matchups against Chicago.
2. Bears LB Danny Trevathan (calf), who missed last week’s game, did not practice Wednesday.
3. Detroit has won seven of of the past eight meetings in the series, but the past five have been decided by a combined 19 points.
PREDICTION: Lions 23, Bears 16